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Opinion: Looking Back at 2013

Eagle Feather News Paul Chartrand | January 28, 2014 The year highlighted early the challenges in the relationship between First ations and Canada! "n 24 January a #Crown $athering# with the Pri%e &inister was attended by the 'sse%bly o( First ations and so%e Chie(s, while others )oined a boycott that e%erged in the (inal stages o( discussions leading up to the e*ent in "ttawa! +hetoric tends to replace substance here as in politics e*erywhere, with re(erences to ,the Crown- o*er in .ondon! The hard truth is that it is the /arper go*ern%ent that rules in Canada and no a%ount o( rhetoric will o*erco%e that (act! The constitutional theory has long ago set that straight in the 'lberta 0ndian 'ssociation Case but the rhetoric persists! There is no trust and there will be no #reconciliation# with this go*ern%ent! 2011 was the 220th anni*ersary o( the (a%ed #+oyal Procla%ation# o( 3ing $eorge 000 o( "ctober 1451 that organi6ed go*ern%ent and stopped pri*ate purchases o( 0ndian lands in 7ritain-s orth '%erican colonies! 't the ti%e the 8nglish were ha*ing a hard ti%e against the #0ndians# who had been allies o( the French! The Procla%ation is an historic e9ercise o( the 7ritish tactic to use legal witchcra(t to replace the %ore costly %ilitary ca%paigns in (ar:(lung colonies! 2011 saw the introduction o( proposed legislation on a First ation 8ducation 'ct, (irst with a #blueprint# in July, (ollowed later in the year with a dra(t 7ill issued (or consultations! 0t was not hard to see that the intent was to continue and ce%ent the #Father ;alcourt 3nows 7est# approach o( the 0ndian '((airs depart%ent and opposition to the dra(t 7ill wor<ed to stall its ad*ance (or the ti%e being! The Pri*ate &e%ber#s 7ill o( +ob Clar<e &P (ro% =as<atchewan, C428 was introduced to repeal so%e o( the %ore inde(ensible sections o( the 0ndian 'ct! 0t passed the /ouse o( Co%%ons in altered (or%, with so%e o( the original pro*isions deleted, ostensibly on account o( the co%ple9ity and uncertain conse>uences o( their repeal! 0n &arch the =upre%e Court o( Canada ga*e its decision in the &anitoba &?tis Federation case, which was started in 'pril 1@81! The case is "T, contrary to al%ost all publicity about it, a land clai%s case! 0t %erely as<ed (or a declaration that the go*ern%ent o( Canada (ailed to i%ple%ent s!11, the &?tis lands pro*ision in the &anitoba 'ct1840! The court granted the declaration, contrary to all reasonable e9pectations on account o( the incredibly bad record o( e*idence and decisions in the lower courts! The &anitoba &?tis Federation announced a co%%ittee o( non: &?tis that it appointed to help it deal with %oneys it e9pects to get (ro% negotiations with go*ern%ents! This bold %o*e belies the (act that the decision i%plies that the ulti%ate bene(iciaries o( the decision, i( any, are descendants o( the original persons entitled to

recei*e &anitoba 'ct lands, %any o( who% li*e in =as<atchewan and elsewhere! =o (ar the Court has an al%ost per(ect recordA it has %issed the %ar< on e*erything it has decided on &?tis issues e9cept (or the actual granting o( the declaration! elson &andela died late in the year, closing the door on an historic )ourney against racis% in =outh '(rica, and opening the door on protracted politics o( opposition that has obser*ers worried! Be %ight conclude with the >uestionA what is the better way to reconcile the interests o( the 0ndigenous peoples in Canada with the stateC 's a %atter o( procedure, the issue o( national reconciliation %ust be %aintained as a national issue and led by a Pri%e &inister! ' national con(erence o( leaders o( both sides %ust be called to set guidelines (or negotiations and agree%ent at the regional and local le*els! 's a %atter o( substance three ele%ents suggest the%sel*esA 1! +ecognition o( 'boriginal and Treaty rights or %a<ing s!12 o( the Constitution 'ct 1@82 e((ecti*e! 2! 8nacting laws to (ill in gaps (or the i%ple%entation o( the relationship! 1! The creation o( a new speciali6ed )udicial Tribunal, with 'boriginal representation, to resol*e disputes! 0( 0 a% not holding %y breath about it being done it is not (or lac< o( opti%is% but appreciation o( political reality! 'nd in =portsA 8*ery year, li<e %any Canadians, 0 en)oy watching the Borld Junior /oc<ey tourna%ent at Christ%as ti%e! Congratulations to the Finns (or a success(ul FinnishD The Finns beat =weden and the re(erees to win $old!

Paul Chartrand, a &etis (ro% =t .aurent, &anitoba and author o( nu%erous publications on law and policy related to indigenous peoples, is a retired law pro(essor who has held uni*ersity positions in Canada, 'ustralia, ew Eealand and the F=', and has ser*ed on a nu%ber o( high:pro(ile 'boriginal policy bodies! 7etween 2002:2008 he was Pro(essor o( .aw at the College o( .aw, Fni*ersity o( =as<atchewan! /e has ad*ised &etis and First ations organi6ations and go*ern%ents, and currently does consulting wor< and occasionally spea<s at con(erences and lectures at uni*ersities o*erseas and principally in 'ustralia and ew Eealand! Paul has been inducted into the =as<atoon =ports /all o( Fa%e and the &anitoba 7aseball /all o( Fa%e!